Weather Blog: “The Dog Days of Summer”.

Weather Blog

Where does the term actually come from?

This time of year is often referred to as “The Dog Days of Summer”. We are going to explore where the term comes from and why in this weather blog.

A Sirius Situation

The period of time from July 3 till August 11 is known as the Dog Days of Summer due to the alignment with the sun and the dog star, Sirius, which is part of the constellation Canis Major. Sirius comes from the Greek word for “searing”. The dog days follow the period of time 20 days before and after the alignment of the sun and Sirius which occurs on July 23rd.

The dog days are also synonymous with the peak heat of the summer due to the timing of the alignment. The ancient Romans believed that the brightness of Sirius added more heat to our sun which created the hazy, hot, and humid conditions that we typically see during the peak of the summer months. The Romans called this stretch of summer days diēs caniculārēs which translates to “dog days”.

A Major Set-Up

As already mentioned, Sirius is called the dog star because it is part of the constellation Canis Major. This constellation is made of several stars that roughly form the shape of a dog hence why the cancellation earns the nickname of the Greater Dog. The brightest star of the constellation is Sirius also called Alpha Canis Majoris. It forms the chest of the dog and is actually made of 2 stars. Sirius A is the brightest by far of the two, and it is impossible to see the second star, Sirius B without a telescope due to its much smaller size and close proximity to Sirius A. Sirius B is sometimes referred to as the “Pup”.

Artistic Rendition of the Binary Star Sirius. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

How to Best View Canis Major and Sirius.

To catch a glimpse of Sirius during the summer, look off towards the southeastern sky around sunrise. This is a difficult star to see during the summer because it rises briefly just before the sun.

The best time of year to view Canis Major is during the winter months in the northern hemisphere. Look towards the southern sky and find the three stars that makeup Orion’s belt. Sirius is located down and to the left of the lower end of Orion’s Belt. It is fairly easy to locate due to its extreme brightness. You can also use any star mapping application like Sky Safari Pro to assist you in locating this famous constellation.

Some Doggone Cute Doggos

Now that you know a little bit more of the origin of “The Dog Days of Summer”, enjoy some cute photos of our team’s puppers.

For other exciting and interesting digital weather content, check out other Weather 101 and Weather Blog pieces.

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